1984 Anti-Sikh Pogrom More Remains To Be Done, Says Phoolka


NEW DELHI: S. Harvinder Singh Phoolka was a budding lawyer when the 1984 riots took place. While he somehow escaped the rioters on the evening of October 31, his house was attacked on November 2. But for his Hindu landlord who hid him and his pregnant wife in his storeroom, he would have probably not lived to oversee numerous cases related to the riots in the quarter of a century since.

But despite the trauma he underwent, there is no sign whatsoever of anger or frustration in his face as he speaks about his experience sitting in his Delhi High Court chamber. That in 25 years only a few have been punished for the riots and deliberate attempts have been made to protect the influential accused has only strengthened his resolve to keep fighting.

“There is no frustration, you are in the system. You only remember what you have achieved and forget the rest. The silver lining is that we have kept the issue alive for 25 years just as if it only happened yesterday. We got an apology from the Prime Minister 21 years after the incident, resignation of a Minister [Jagdish Tytler] 21 years after the incident and compensation to all the victims 22 years after the incident. This all was possible because of the constant follow-up,” he says.

“Now we know we cannot get complete justice and so we want symbolic justice. The 1984 riots should not go down in history as a large-scale heinous crime in which no justice was delivered,” Mr. Phoolka says. What motivates him nevertheless is that more remains to be done in the case. “Now we are looking for prosecution of Sajjan Kumar, which has been recommended by the CBI to the government in four cases registered against him.”

As for Mr. Jagdish Tytler, he says: “Though we have not been able to secure punishment for him in a court of law, we succeeded in getting political punishment for him. This was a result of total support from the media and the public which we lacked in the beginning. It was only after Gujarat that things changed and now the media and the people are with us.”

Mr. Phoolka regrets that from day one attempts were made to protect the powerful culprits while the victims were further victimised. His book, When a Tree Shook Delhi: The 1984 Carnage and its Aftermath, draws from the speech of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi who had stated that the earth shakes when a big tree falls.

Mr. Phoolka also makes a mention of how several police officers who failed to protect the lives and property of the victims later got promotions and were rewarded.

According to Mr. Phoolka, about 80 per cent of the affected families have started life afresh. “Many of them were very well off in 1984. In these 25 years, while the world has moved much ahead, these families have not been able to keep pace.”

The social aspect of the tragedy is much large. “In families that lost their earning members, the women were forced to take up work. And in the absence of any parental control, about 30 per cent of the children fell into the habit of drugs. Also, women who were not so educated were given jobs of peons and gardeners in place of the earning members who worked in better positions. This resulted in overall decline in the family’s standard of living.”


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Aman Singh Ji,

Phoolka Ji has achieved a significant amount of truth that needs to be acted upon.

One person cannot do it all especially when the people who primarily should be involved are sitting on the side lines and sniggering. They have been presented the facts that they themselves have not or could not see or unearth in 25 years!

I came across this discussion that I feel shows how Sikhs loose all the gained ground - it is thanks to our 'leadership without commitment'.

I hear the Sarna Camp contribution as not helping the Sikh cause but helping the cause of the 'unrualy antisikh mobs lead by Indian Government congress leaders'

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The action required is to get the supporters of Sikhi under DSGPC to look at the 'truth dug up by Phoolka Ji for protection of Sikhs in the future' and is being squandered away by two (at least) Sikh blood thirsty 'pretentious sikh leaders' and selling us to congress who are already hell bent on getting rid of Sikhs! WHAT IS STOPPING SIKHS TO HELP GET RID OF THESE CANCEROUS MINDS?!!

It is these people we should see with tyres around their necks
- however we are Sikhs who allow freedom so do not martyr them.



Harvinder Singh Phoolka (commonly known as H. S. Phoolka) is a senior advocate of Delhi High Court, Human Rights activist, and author. He is known for spearheading one of the longest and most tortuous legal "crusades" to gain justice for the victims of 1984 Anti-Sikh massacre and fighting individual cases on the involvement of Congress-I leaders H. K. L. Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler despite the government cover-up. He received threatening letters for unearthing involvements of ruling political party leaders in what the Asian Age called "the Mother of all Cover-ups" in a front page story. The special anniversary edition of the Outlook (magazine) included Phoolka in its list of 50 people that make a difference in India, alongside Amartya Sen and Abhinav Ghosh.
Early life and education

Phoolka's formative years were spent in a small village called Bhadaur in the Sangrur district of Punjab, India. His education began in a small school in his village. He graduated from Ludhiana, and went to Law School in Chandigarh. He comes from Jat Sikh family of Phoolka clan (a sub-clan of Sidhu Jats).

Phoolka married Maninder Kaur in 1983. She is a food technologist and was a 1990 "outstanding graduate" of American Institute of Baking, Kansas. She is said to have declined job offers in the United States and returned to India to support her husband's struggle for justice


Not only H.S Phoolka but his wife has also shown how to be true Sikh. She also declined lucrative job offer in US. Both are very good examples of true Sikhs.
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1947-2014 (Archived)
The part where I am curious, re: davinderdhanjal's question. Hmmm....

H.S. Phoolka was set to quit the case because of allegations by the Sarna brothers. He had been hired by Akal Takht to represent the victims. He went to Akal Takht to explain his decision. However, Delhi was the party that disbursed the funds to cover the costs of litigation. H.S. Phoolka was openly vilified by the Sarna brothers. Their statement was that money had been mishandled. They were then called to Akal Takht explain their actions. How did this all end up?

There did not seem to be any follow up in the media. Yet I check on the court case every day.